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Canada - Jasper National Park - Highlights

Canada - Jasper National Park - Highlights


Postby ChrisW » Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:54 am

Date walked: 04/08/2012

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Sarah and I spent a week 'up north' in Jasper National Park last week and made our way through a bunch of separate hikes, mostly the short tourist stuff but beautiful hikes nonetheless. Thought I would share the highlights in one hit as it would take too long to do them all as separate hikes.

On day one we set off for the 250 mile journey north to Jasper where we had booked a log cabin for the week, we stopped at several locations along the way to stretch our legs including this beautiful meadow alongside the bow river just north of Banff
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Soon after Lake Louise where we stopped for lunch we made a hike to a viewpoint for Crowfoot Glacier, the first view from the roadside is impressive
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but just a couple of km through the trees and up a steep banking will get you this view and a good number of mozzy bites :roll:
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Moving on to the 2km loop to Peyto Glacier and lake is well worth the stop. It is a very short steep loop that leaves you blowing a bit but does get you to one of the most photographed lakes in Canada
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After stretching our legs at Peyto Lake we continued on to the immense Columbia Icefield. With 325 square kilometres (200 sq miles) of ice spanning the continental divide at depths up to 360 m (1180 feet) it is one of the largest accumulations of ice and snow south of the Arctic circle and feeds 8 major glaciers and many more minor ones. Waters from here make their way to 3 different oceans, the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic and the Icefields Visitor Centre is the perfect place to begin exploring the area.

Directly across the road from the centre is the Athabasca Glacier, 6km (3.5 miles) long and 300m (980 feet) deep. Receding at a rate of 3m (9.5 feet) per year.
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A procession of glacier tour buses make their way along a prepared track to a prepared flat area on the lower level of the glacier, we considered taking the tour but before we booked we saw a number of people hiking along the front edge.....now that is more like it, we crossed the road and headed for the trailhead.
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There are a good number of people making the short hike up and over the moraine at the front of the glacier, along the way markers show where the glacier was in 1900, 1930, 1950 etc up to 2010, it's amazing to think that all of the land in view in the photo below was under the glacier just 100 years ago.
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Once over the short steep climb up the moraine we get our first view of the front of the glacier, to the left there are a few people walking to a small bridge across the water and out onto the toe, we set off in that direction with a real sense of excitement.
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the surface of the toe was covered in tiny rocks embedded in the ice making the grip easier than expected though I had taken micro spikes along in anticipation/hope of being able to get up on here.
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As we hiked along we waved to the people in the glacier tour buses riding along the lateral moraine to our left, looking at them all pressed against the window with their cameras in hand showed that this was the right decision.
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further along the ice was much cleaner but the surface was beginning to look like a road map of great britain with small streams running all over, with Sarah huffing and puffing I decided to turn back, we had a nice little adventure and walked along a glacier, no need to take any risks.
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before heading down we filled our drink bottle with fresh glacial ice water and took a drink or two, it was actually really nice, obviously cold, soft water and we felt like we had something as we descended with large smiles on our faces.
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We were soon back to the car park and heading north toward Jasper, on our final leg stretcher before we reached the town we came across this beautiful black bear munching berries, absolutely uninterested in us, though he could probably only see me as Sarah was behind me peeking over my shoulder repeatedly telling me "it's a bear".......
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After breakfast on day 2 and being told by the receptionist that a grizzly with 2 cubs was on the site we decided to walk along the hiking trail into town, we didn't see a grizzly with 2 cubs but we did see this sneaky bear making use of the boulder field to cross from berry bushes to berry bushes, to save any confusion Sarah told me "it's a bear" ..........
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the first view of Jasper is beautiful nestled at the foot of Pyramid Mountain it is the archetypal rocky mountain town
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we got little done once Sarah had found the shops but had a lovely day wandering the town then back along the river to our cabin waving at the rafters going downstream
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day 3 saw us up and about early to go see Athabasca Falls just south of town, once close to teh falls you can hear them but still don't see much of anything
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a short walk leads to a view of the top of the falls with the sun rising above Mt Kerkeslin across the way, it is a fantastic sight but doesn't yet do justice to the whole of the falls.
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walking further downstream leads to a rather ill fitting concrete bridge that detracts from the area quite significantly but does provide an excellent platform to look upstream to the falls and the thundering cascade through the canyon below.
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once across the canyon we hiked back up to the head of the falls and looked downstream at the beautiful natural wonder only slightly spoiled by the two hideous concrete bridges downstream.
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we took the whole circular hike that runs downstream through the older dry channels of the falls and provides a nice river view before climbing back up through more of these dry channels
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after the falls we went into town for lunch and then did the two circuits of Patrica and Pyramid lakes north of the town site though the weather was a bit overcast we still enjoyed the lakes.
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we began day 4 with a hike to Old Fort Point just a couple of km East of our cabin, the initial ascent is a series of wooden steps over a steep rock face that affords a great view back over to pyramid mountain
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once up the steps it is a nice gentle stroll though Sarah may disagree with this statement, along a grassy knoll overlooking the town and surrounding mountains
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the view across to whistlers mountain and along the Yellowhead Highway was worth the climb though we were disappointed not to see marmots in the meadows along the way, still something we haven't seen yet.
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to the east Beauvert lake almost looks painted into the landscape, we will be going over there for a closer look once we have enjoyed the mountain a little longer.
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as soon as we were down from the mountain we went to Beauvert Lake so Sarah could cool her feet in the water.......she got as far as her toe :lol:
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we decided to take a wander along the lakeside trail
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at one point a family pass by in a Canadian canoe enjoying the lake and providing a perfect stereotype for a rocky mountain photo.
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we leave the crystal clear waters of the lake and head into town for dinner before enjoying another quite evening by the river and an early night.
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Day 4 saw us up and out to Maligne Canyon just a few miles east of Jasper, the huge car park gave away the popularity of the venue and there were already crowds of people making the short walk to the lower tea house. To avoid the crowds we took the longer journey upstream and were pleased to have the venue to ourselves from that point.
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The Maligne Valley is riddled by the most extensive "karst" system in the world (a geological formation of caves above and below ground level). In the case of the Maligne Valley, no one knows just where water from Maligne Lake goes. When traced by dyes it has taken anywhere from half a day to a week for the water to make the journey from Medicine Lake to Maligne Canyon (about ten miles). Even then, the dyes didn't show up at only one final destination. Dyes turned up in the Canyon, Lac Beauvert by Jasper Park Lodge and in several of the other lakes between.
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there is a tremendous amount of water hammering down the canyon and literally flying over the drops making the waterfalls more of a water chute
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Maligne Canyon also added to our bear sighting tally with this good size black bear enjoying the bright red berries along the trail, its great to watch them pull a branch into their teeth and then strip it by closing their mouth and pulling the branch out again, sans berries.
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after visiting the cafe and gift shop we got back to the car and continued on along the Maligne road to it's destination, Maligne lake where we had intended to take the 90 minute boat trip. After seeing the boats and realising that they are 'closed in' neither of us fancied it so we walked along the lake trail instead.
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it was murky at the far end of the lake as a thunder storm moved in
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but fine at our end and around the flooded boathouse (the lake is high right now)
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the locals were quite friendly and even though they had some good size ears to hear us coming some of them stayed around long enough for a photo
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after wandering the lake area for a while we took advantage of the excellent on site cafe and huge decking area to enjoy lunch before setting off back down the stunning Maligne road
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our next stop was at Medicine lake where we watched a little whirlpool dragging water down into that endless 'karst' system
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the Maligne road curves around the northern end of Medicine lake which is well above it's normal water level giving us no chance of being the first to discover exactly where exactly the water goes.
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We continued our journey east and picked up the Miette road that leads to the Miette Hot Springs, it was along this road that we saw a huge black bear enjoying the berries, again he had no interest in us as we watched him for quite a while going about his demolition of the forest fruits
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it's a beautiful drive up the Miette road with pull outs for photo opportunities
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the hot springs are very disappointing being fully commercialised and constructed into two small swimming pools, fortunately there are some nice hikes up here
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day 5 saw us take the ride up on the gondola to whistlers mountain just west of town which gives a great view out over the town of Jasper, the bend in the river to the right of the shot is the location of our cabin. To the far left Pyramid Mountain is just being touched by the rising morning sun
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we decided to take the hike to the summit as soon as we exited the gondola and set off with Sarah already feeling the effects of altitude. It wasn't long before we were stopping to 'admire the view' quite frequently.
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there was still a chill in the air at the top but the views in all directions were worth the effort. Looking south the depth of the ranges was incredible and the colours of the rocks even better.
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it was nice to see a ptarmigan and her chick up there as well as pika, chipmunks, eagles and the old favourite, the ground squirrel
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we only walked about 2km along the flat topped mountain before heading back down to the cafe overlooking the town which is much more like Sarahs domain :lol:
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Once back on the ground we set off south to the Valley of the five lakes which is a nice longer hike taking in (as suggested by the title) five lakes. The lakes follow one after the other along a lush green valley accessible from the icefields parkway
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the lakes are beautiful, from a distance they bear the deep turquoise colour associated with all lakes in these parts but close up they are stunningly clear, so much so that we were able to watch a young duckling feeding under about 3 feet of water as we rested part way around the hike.
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this was one of the best hikes we did this week, a great easy trail through forest and rugged rocky outcrops and alongside such beautiful waters
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I should confess to a bit of a nightmare situation here as part way around the camera card was full, I always carry a spare battery but the cards hold so many images that I never fill them....now it seems I should say, almost never. Fortunately I could erase a number of bear shots as I tend to take a lot of the bears which gave me enough space to carry on clicking along the hike....lesson learned.
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it was impossible not to keep on clicking here, the incredible lakes cried out to be photographed and though they may lack the tall mountains around them to really add drama they are still stunning to behold.
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I tried to get Sarah to stand on this rock but she was having none of it so I made a rare appearance in front of camera showing remarkable coordination in my clothing selection for the day
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we cut across the south end of the 5th lake and headed back into the forest to pick up the home bound trail with only one regret, I hadn't brought my fishing tackle along.
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Our next jaunt was out west to Mt Robson provincial park for a view of the huge mountain....suffice to say this was a clear a view as we got all day....we still had a great time though
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Day 6 saw us with a whole new plan, we realised that staying until Saturday as planned would mean travelling the Icefields Parkway in peak season 'holiday weekend' traffic which could result in significant delay due to the single carriageway and plethora of camper vans, trailers and tour buses. To avoid this we packed up Thursday night and loaded the car ready for a Friday morning departure. Our last planned trip would have been south (toward home) anyway so we just made it a stop off along the way. After having breakfast in Jasper we drove to the small scenic highway 93a that runs adjacent to the Icefields Parkway at its northern end, from here we took the single twisting highway up to Mt Edith Cavell where a short hike from the car park led us to the most beautiful location
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it is a fantastic morning with bright blue skies and wall to wall sunshine, just the thing for viewing mountains and glaciers.
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as we close in on the mountain the view of Angel glacier widens to show it's 'arms' reaching to both sides and the waterfalls pouring off it from high above
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the glacier hangs onto the side of the mountain in its death throes, slowly melting and depositing both water and ice into the glacial lake below
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definitely the kind of day to be showing off your new fleece, and if you both have a new fleece all the better. They were actually useful up here as it was still quite cool in the morning air.
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Mt Edith Cavell is a truly beautiful location, named in 1916 for Edith Cavell, an English nurse executed by the Germans during World War I for helping allied soldiers escape from occupied Belgium to the Netherlands. I knew she was remembered in England (with a statue in Trafalgar square I think) but had no idea that such a wonderful location so far from home was also named after her, I wondered what an early 20th century woman would have made of such a memorial.
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the lake is held on two sides by huge lateral moraines and at the back by the mountain which feeds it, the front is another moraine leaving only a small stream exiting the northern end
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we circled the lake and met a family from Manitoba who we chatted with for some time before grabbing one more shot of this idyllic mountain location
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we made our own trail up high onto the lateral moraine to get a great overview of the lake and the small dots that are people down there on the path
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we dropped back down to the official trail and followed it past a lovely waterfall back toward the car park we saw a mother bear and her tiny little cub scratching about in the bushes, she bellowed at the cub and took off into the forest I just got a few shots of the tiny beastie before he was gone, it was a perfect end to the week.

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Leaving early really paid off as we made great time on the road home, we stopped at lake louise for lunch before making the final leg of the journey home, all the time watching thousands of vehicles heading the opposite direction into the mountains.
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Re: Canada - Jasper National Park - Highlights

Postby Stretch » Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:29 am

Stop it. :lol:
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Re: Canada - Jasper National Park - Highlights

Postby ChrisW » Thu Aug 09, 2012 4:42 am

Stretch wrote:Stop it. :lol:


Sorry mate, I've just posted another :lol: :lol:
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Re: Canada - Jasper National Park - Highlights

Postby BlackPanther » Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:44 am

No, no, don't stop. I'm addicted already :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Canada - Jasper National Park - Highlights

Postby foggieclimber » Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:51 am

Seriously nice set of photos!!!!! :D
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Re: Canada - Jasper National Park - Highlights

Postby garyhortop » Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:48 am

Amazing Photo's Chris - all them mountains and not a spot of clag to be found!! :mrgreen:

I visited Jasper some years ago when my nephew was working in Vancouver and I took a trip up to Jasper - stunning - although didn't do the hiking (ex wife didn't like that sort of thing!). Makes me want to go back!! Am right jealous! :D

Nice fleeces by the way! :wink:
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Re: Canada - Jasper National Park - Highlights

Postby SusieThePensioner » Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:54 pm

Well, what can I say? It's just such an amazing part of the country and I really enjoyed your
holiday snaps :lol: :lol: :lol:

When we went to Banff we were so disappointed not to see any bears; plenty of moose and squirrels! We then drove south to Montana and the "Going to the sun" road and saw hoary marmots :D
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Re: Canada - Jasper National Park - Highlights

Postby ChrisW » Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:43 pm

BlackPanther wrote:No, no, don't stop. I'm addicted already :lol: :lol: :lol:

Me too BP....I can't stop :lol:

foggieclimber wrote:Seriously nice set of photos!!!!! :D

Cheers foggie, though they are easy to get around here :wink:

garyhortop wrote:Amazing Photo's Chris - all them mountains and not a spot of clag to be found!! :mrgreen:

I visited Jasper some years ago when my nephew was working in Vancouver and I took a trip up to Jasper - stunning - although didn't do the hiking (ex wife didn't like that sort of thing!). Makes me want to go back!! Am right jealous! :D Nice fleeces by the way! :wink:

Cheers Gary, we really enjoyed it, the glaciers were something that we intend to go back to...just beautiful.

SusieThePensioner wrote:Well, what can I say? It's just such an amazing part of the country and I really enjoyed your holiday snaps :lol: :lol: :lol:
When we went to Banff we were so disappointed not to see any bears; plenty of moose and squirrels! We then drove south to Montana and the "Going to the sun" road and saw hoary marmots :D

Thanks Susie, funny you should mention the 'Going to the sun road' as Sarah and I discussed going down to Yellowstone via that specific road/glacier but chose to go up to Jasper because we hadn't seen it yet and had been to Yellowstone already.
We are still looking for the elusive hoary marmot.....they seem to be shy around here :roll:
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Re: Canada - Jasper National Park - Highlights

Postby gammy leg walker » Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:39 pm

Stunning pictures once again Chris,every time I think you cant get any better you do. :clap: :clap:
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Re: Canada - Jasper National Park - Highlights

Postby morag1 » Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:51 pm

What a fab holiday you and Sarah had! I love the way you take every opportunity to explore that magnificent country 8). A real privilege to share in your Canadian adventures, keep them coming Chris :D
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Re: Canada - Jasper National Park - Highlights

Postby malky_c » Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:45 pm

Finally Mount Robson makes an appearance :D . Impressive stuff, although I wouldn't have recognised it with all the clag.

This is like one of those Colin Prior coffee-table books, but a Canadian version. Probably your most varied and impressive set of shots yet. Looks like a great place for a holiday 8)
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Re: Canada - Jasper National Park - Highlights

Postby ChrisW » Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:48 pm

gammy leg walker wrote:Stunning pictures once again Chris,every time I think you cant get any better you do. :clap: :clap:

Cheers Gammy, but it's easy to get great photos of such beautiful surroundings :wink:

morag1 wrote:What a fab holiday you and Sarah had! I love the way you take every opportunity to explore that magnificent country 8). A real privilege to share in your Canadian adventures, keep them coming Chris :D

Thanks Morag, we try to explore as much as possible wherever we are, so when the time comes that we can no longer do it, we'll have a thousand memories to share :D
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Re: Canada - Jasper National Park - Highlights

Postby HighlandSC » Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:50 pm

I keep playing the mega millions lottery with the hope of being able to constantly jet between Scotland, USA, and your place in Canada! (with the odd sidetrack to the Andes, Alps, Himalya....).

We can dream.

But I'll definitely find my way to your neck of the woods one day...!
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Re: Canada - Jasper National Park - Highlights

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:10 pm

What can I say. What a country, plus two things I wanted to see most from your reports, bears and clag :lol:
I think you have pushed me over the edge, I now must visit Canada one day.
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Re: Canada - Jasper National Park - Highlights

Postby ChrisW » Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:17 am

malky_c wrote:Finally Mount Robson makes an appearance :D . Impressive stuff, although I wouldn't have recognised it with all the clag.
This is like one of those Colin Prior coffee-table books, but a Canadian version. Probably your most varied and impressive set of shots yet. Looks like a great place for a holiday 8)

Cheers Malky, you must have sneaked that in as I typed my other responses. Gutted about Mt Robson, we hiked around the park and lake for a couple of hours but that was as good as we got (I was going to go up a way and grab a shot specifically so I could tell you I'd been on Mt Robson :lol: It is a great spot for a holiday as it's got plenty of stuff close by (though Lake Louise is probably a better base for hiking holidays)

HighlandSC wrote:I keep playing the mega millions lottery with the hope of being able to constantly jet between Scotland, USA, and your place in Canada! (with the odd sidetrack to the Andes, Alps, Himalya....).
We can dream. But I'll definitely find my way to your neck of the woods one day...!


Thanks HSC, the Canadian Rockies are definitely a 'bucket list' addition, and there are incredibly beautiful locations like these around every corner...it is breathtaking at times.

johnkaysleftleg wrote:What can I say. What a country, plus two things I wanted to see most from your reports, bears and clag :lol: I think you have pushed me over the edge, I now must visit Canada one day.

If you can make it out here JK you will never regret it...try and make it for as long as possible...the place is huge (and this comes from someone who has driven across the USA............ twice) :lol:
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